Meditation on the Bitter Woods
This day began gray, overcast, chilly, but by noon it brightened to a glimmer of sunlight. I decided to wear a tropical floral print halter dress and a red sweater, with large gold hoop earrings, to commemorate someone very dear to me. Sometimes you can know a person for a fairly short time, but you know you will “know” her for the rest of your life. Such is the special situation with my special friend.
I played some music, a composition that we’d shared during the fall of 2015. As I listened to the strains of Massenet’s Meditation, I thought intensely of her, and I recalled our many heartfelt, frank, and comical discussions. We definitely liked to franc-parler!
I especially remembered our lengthy conversations in 2016 during the Summer of Terror in France, particularly in southern France, where she lived. She is no longer with us, but she will always be with me. Today, I think of all that we confided to one another during not only that summer but during three summers, three autumns, two winters, two springs.
Regarding France, some of our correspondences were discourses, declaring:
Hollande, the worst President in the history of France (so far). How hautain the horrible politicians have become. How the VAT is evil. How true it is that the French do not like outsiders. Quelle horreur, how the French language is being degraded by French Ebonics. (I was stunned to learn there is a French version of this corruption of language as a form of rebellion against anything and everything fundamental to a nation and its culture. If there was one country where I’d thought this linguistic bastardization could not occur, it was la France.)
How the people of France have been betrayed once again by their government. How the youth of France, the next generation, the Future, is being targeted by ISIL. How in Brussels, the Headquarters of the Terrorists, the Chinese Fire Drill to arrest the latest attackers fell apart in hours. How Brigitte Bardot single-bodily rebuilt the economy of post-war France and then the thanks she got from her nation. How a borderless Europe was taken advantage of — by the terrorists — far more than by the European citizens who were supposed to benefit from all of this freedom to roam at will to better jobs and better lives and better laws, all because of a treaty that promised to unite them all and thereby prevent WWIII.
My friend was the daughter of a childhood survivor of the bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940. Having already written the fictional story of this annihilation, I was astonished to learn a real-life story. Because of the actual histories related to me by my special friend, I acutely understood how desperately the sons and daughters of the children of WWII did not want to experience yet another devastating war. And now they are watching their children become the victims of a war to annihilate Western Civilization. It is a war that was not supposed to have happened. It is a war that, once again, had been papered out of the possibility of existence. But, as General Charles de Gaulle said, “Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”
My special friend had moved to southern France thirty years earlier from Breda, the Netherlands. She was someone I’d lost in life earlier, a friend re-found. She tutoyer’d me fairly quickly in our budding friendship and I, the more formal French speaker, waited a while before I responded to her in the familiar “tu”. When she first learned that I am a published writer, she asked, with comical and charming caution, “Should I know about you?” With an amused smile, I replied, “No, but maybe one day you ought to . . .” I’m working toward that day.
And as I sit here and weep, I think of how she worked toward the day when she and her family would be free of fear and worry. I think of how she worked, for her family, every day and every night, and how she persevered, tirelessly, with enormous sacrifice, and silent solitary courage, all in the face of the world that she had known crumbling down around her. All of this labor of love with very little pay . . . to try to build a life in a war zone, as she put it. I think of how she and her husband endured crisis after crisis, unable, as native Europeans, to find work because of the onslaught of immigrants in France during the past 30 years, but especially during the past decade.
She warned me that for 30 years she’d been warning others in France about this escalating catastrophe, this désastre. Like Cassandra, she was not believed by many people, except by her three children. For their own safety and well-being, those adult offspring no longer live in France.
As a mother, I can tell you there is a ceaseless sense of heartache in watching your beloved children have to leave the region of their birthplace because it no longer sustains them, permits them to grow, to thrive, or even to live. This courageous mother gave her heart and soul to ensure that her children would live a better life than the one that she’d lived, no thanks to the Netherlands, no thanks to France, no thanks to any nation of Europe.
And therein resides yet another truly great evil that Europe and its feckless politicians must confront: the cowardice within themselves. The terrorists are taking advantage of that evil, adding their evil to that evil, and the resulting evil is exponential.
It is not often that I write about current events. Not that I stand outside of them; indeed, the latest barbarism across the pond forced me that night to put away my reading of The Bitter Woods and to examine the current bitter woods in England. Studying the Battle of the Bulge felt indecent to me when there is a battle, a war really, brewing in Europe that so few officials there want to fight or even acknowledge exists. These pompous, rank-pulling bureaucrats, with their fixation, almost a fetish, on red tape, are being overtaken by history and they are rather miffed. Their egos are insufferable and their citizens are suffering because of those spiritless egos.
My special friend enlightened me about the many realities that the French would not face there, in France. She valiantly tried on Bastille Day 2016 not to feel « ébahie » — stunned — about the massacre in Nice by yet another madman. One of the saddest facets of that day, for me, involved the fact that I, in California, informed her, in Provence, of the slaughter. I believe the news to the citizenry had been purposely delayed somewhat by the French government.
We debated at length the possibility of that official atrocity, but it was useless to insist on any point of the argument. I’m “French” enough to know that the French do not count on the News to find out the truth about “the news.” The Old World monarchs did not invent fake news but they mastered the art of deception and speaking with deviation about what the heck is really going on, otherwise known in modern times as “the news”.
The problem that the modern citizens of the Old World must stand up to, or to be more honest, must resolve, is the type of person who has entered "politics" in the “Eurozone” and the UK. These “leaders” are neutered narcissistic nannies, runts, and nabobs who do not look to the Future, just to their own glorification and enrichment. The same malfeasance has occurred since the post-Cold-War era in the United States.
We Americans are much quicker on the trigger to pull the plug on a loser leader; it’s not quick enough for those of us with an easy pull, but we at least have guns and bullets, electoral and otherwise, over here in the States. One might say the unarmed over in Europe have become the easily harmed.
During the late 19th century, the Titans of Industry ran things in this new, young country. Today, Americans tolerate the loud blabbermouth intrusions of the Technocrats of Instagram, but those vulgar creatures pay to play: they do not determine monetary policy (although they believe that they do). The technological revolution, the digital daring that kept America from going completely under during the collapse of the subprime bubble, that magnificent creativity did not take place in Europe and in the United Kingdom. The job-killers that Americans point to with ever-more-loaded fingers were, in the EU, industry-killers, if not nation-killers. The Internet was viewed with the hostility historically aimed at the Huns.
There are many people in Europe who know quite well that their political system is a fossil and each election is an embarrassment. They sense they need a coup d’état — which will happen only after the human wolves have killed enough people. Only then will the empty-suited bureaucrats be forced to admit the ugly truth: the hordes of immigrants were allowed to overrun Europe as a source of cheap labor. Those non-European workers then cost the European citizens more than their jobs: they cost them their lives.
Gulp. The EU green-eye-shade greens did not plan on this enormous counter-weight to the US becoming an albatross around their necks. So much for Centralized Planning!
The fundamental job of any government is to protect the citizenry. This duty has been tossed overboard by the “leaders” in the ships of state of Western Europe. It remains to be seen if the United Kingdom can become united within its coastlines and with the United States — against the barbarians of the Islamic world. Soldiers on the streets to protect the citizens is, to me, a blatant sign that the citizens have lost the right to protect themselves. And the idea of a cop without a gun is, for any American, just plain weird, especially in view of the fact that the bobby stick has been invalidated by the suicide bomber.
It’s a shocking sight, the military defense of the Realm within the island nation. Setting aside the armed units to combat the IRA, troops used to protect civilians from bloodthirsty fanatics, some of them British citizens, were not part of the programme of the rationed nirvana of the Socialist State — that modish straitjacket that somehow cannot be shed, no matter what the economic and moral costs of wearing the hideous corset. As ordinary life spirals out of control, the government and media megaphones and morons seek to control behavior, language, even thoughts, lest the rabble figure out they’ve been schnookered by Marxism Lite.
Those military boots on the British sidewalks are a tacit admission by the politicians that they have failed to get a grip on the reality of the Post-Cold War world. And those paper-shuffling “powers”-that-be are quite ticked off at this turn of events, but this turn of the screw of the electorate has been going on for quite some time now; 40-50 years of social tinkering have led to a lot of tinkers and not much society.
In France, where l’État has reigned supreme since the era of kings, the spectre of the EU running the machine of state through the Brussels men has sharpened the mordant satire of the French, but they sense that they are doomed, as they sigh and shrug and laugh and cry and escape through sleep. “Fatigué” is a term that means more than mere fatigue and feeling tired. It connotes a sickness of the spirit, the torpor that has rendered the French unable to change, to move toward change. It’s an ominous, a very ominous state of the State, of l’État. France has entered a nightmare from which it will be very agonizing to awaken.
None too soon it will be curtains for Charles de Gaulle's Fifth Republic, a government and a constitution that this Frenchman established only after he adamantly walked away from leading the nation that he saved during its Dark Years. I quite agree with these words from Le General, “I have tried to lift France out of the mud. But she will return to her errors and vomitings. I cannot prevent the French from being French.”
It is not easy for this American to watch things collapse in Europe. It is not pleasant for many Americans to watch the implosion of the EU and the dithering and shuffling of positions and politicians in the UK, the British version of the girouette of 1930s governments in France. Winston Churchill, returned to Chartwell, might not recognize portions of his native England!
With rare exceptions, the post-9/11 world has not been accepted, much less mastered, by the elected politicians of the United Kingdom and the European nations most threatened by Islamic terrorism. As my dear daughter told me several years ago, just after I finished the writing of THE DAWN, “They never got over World War II.”
And the Western European nations that were so brutally destroyed by the Nazis and the Fascists still have not found the mettle to ditch the welfarism and socialism and that served as a post-war crutch and bandage. That bloody bandage has turned into a tourniquet and the wobbly crutch now trips up the citizenry at every step. Many, if not most, post-post-war Western Europeans must learn to walk freely, as in days of yore, into pure unfettered democracy, living lives endowed with the liberty that was granted to them by their Maker, not by the Maastricht manipulators. They must have the courage to engage in pure capitalism. They must have the clarity to comprehend the past from which they run so frantically, at every turn, with the fear that has blinded them from seeing the future, yea, even the present moment.
They must, above all else, drop the hashtags and the hugs and grab a hold of reality. Their grandparents certainly did it, and these squeamish youngins would not even be here on God’s green earth if that remarkable valor had not manifested itself in acts great and small, known and unknown. Let’s replace the known and unknown wolves with known and unknown heroes.
I, for one, for many, for all, have grown weary of watching the makeshift memorials with the all-too-predictable piles of flowers and the candles, the marches with the placards for peace, and the teddy bears, the tears, the hands held, in solidarity. The next screaming massacre then takes place, and the bloody cycle repeats itself all over again. Try vigilance, not vigils.
This war, the War on Terror, was never deemed legitimate by the EU-mongers who had tried to avoid another war through yet another treaty, an accord that has become more like a suicide pact. The war that they feared, that of one among nations within their continent, has been superseded by a war waged by fanatics and lunatics within their borders.
Adolf Hitler was a nutcase too; his deranged mind did not obviate him from also being evil. His evil grew steadily, but surely, in Germany for almost a decade before it exploded in infernal war upon millions and then the appeasers of Europe finally shut up. The war that the current crop of appeasers won’t fight in Western Europe has grown steadily but surely since 9/11. The appeasers have not yet shut up.
This war, the War on Terror, is a legitimate war that too many Europeans appear to not comprehend as real. Yet, the reality is real, and it has been real for many years. The Maastricht Treaty, a godless, secular, regulatory attempt to reshape and reform the Europe of millennia, that warping of basic human dignity engendered the chaos that today is Western Europe.
It may sound facile for an American to speak of such things as democracy and liberty and capitalism, but those concepts became the bedrock of the American experiment because of all of the concrete concepts that the Old World was able to provide to the New World, morally, emotionally, spiritually, and in so many fundamental ways that Americans still believe Europe is capable of reclaiming for itself.
In (not) facing the War on Terror, the governments overseas reached the point of no return during the past decade. Now we wait and pray. And we prevail. Because the Old World gave birth to the New World and in some mystical, magical, undeniable way, we are as one; in the same way that my special friend and I are as one on this day, while I listen to the Nantucket buoy bell outside enchantingly chime to tell me that the southwest winds have come from the California Delta. Cooler weather is thereby announced to break the heat wave, and I believe that announcement much more than any weather forecast.
The winds of change were not heeded by the sick old men of Europe who were replaced by the sick young men of Europe, and sick young women, in all fairness to the equality that Europe has mandated, though not created, among the nations of that continent. In reality, the EU was an experiment in envy, an attempt to forge an economic counter-balance to the United States that functions out of fear, not fortitude. Instead of working with the Super-Power, the Brussels blob tried to work against it.
And now there is hell-on-earth because of petty, peeved politicians who in their elitist orbits are so removed from the grubby masses that they cannot even face them on-camera and utter the undiluted truth that terrorism has overtaken the sacred soil of France; the bloodied soil of Belgium that used to never dry out between the wars because that terrain was but a trampling ground for armies of invasion; and the Sceptered Isle that must now form an armed camp for citizens who believed the EU would keep them from becoming an armed camp. Those British citizens must now contend with cowardly elected officials as if the 1930s have returned, 80 years later. The French, as always, are not very far behind the British, in their apprehending reality.
My special friend admired Charles de Gaulle almost as much as me, although she knew what a high “niveau” she had to reach in that reverence. I thus end our commemorative essay with thoughts, in English, from Charles. His profundities are, as usual, more true now than when he uttered them.
As President of France:
“I have against me the bourgeois, the military and the diplomats, and for me, only the people who take the Metro.”
“Diplomats are useful only in fair weather. As soon as it rains they drown in every drop.”
As the leader of the Free French:
“Greatness is a road leading towards the unknown.”
“France cannot be France without greatness.”
En réalité, I await, avec impatience, the greatness of France. With heavenly patience, so does my special friend.